Coronavirus in Brazil: Bolsonaro increasingly isolated


(Brasilia) Faced with the coronavirus which could cause tens of thousands of deaths in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro still maintains, against “the little flu”, his opposition to confinement in force elsewhere in the world, at the cost of 'increasing political isolation.

Jordi MIRO

France Media Agency

The highly controversial posture of Mr. Bolsonaro in the face of a pandemic that has already killed 159 people in Brazil is illustrated with irony in a meme circulating on social networks.

We can see a dinosaur observing a meteorite ready to fall on Earth. But instead of worrying about the eradication of his species, he exclaims: “shit, this is going to screw up the economy!” “

Even his theory that a less severe confinement could help preserve jobs is defeated by most economists.

When he calls on the Brazilians to “return to work” by raising the threat of “social chaos”, the far-right president goes against the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and even his own Minister of Health, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, a doctor.

Several other important ministers of the Bolsonaro government have been in favor of containment, notably that of Justice, Sergio Moro, and of the Economy, Paulo Guedes.

Against all odds, Jair Bolsonaro, 65 years old, spent his Sunday circulating in the region of Brasilia, entering in many businesses, causing crowds and even taking photos with supporters.

Pan Concerts

The Brazilian president persists and signs despite the turn to 180 degrees initiated by other world leaders previously “corona-skeptics”, like British Prime Minister Boris Johnson or Donald Trump. However, he used to line up with his American counterpart on virtually every subject.

His obstinacy has only increased the intensity of the casserole concerts intended for him every evening for more than a week.

On social networks, which served as a springboard for him to be elected in 2018, critics are increasingly fierce.

In recent days, Twitter, Facebook and Instragram have even deleted messages posted on the president's official accounts, considering that the “disinformation” was causing harm to the population.

The head of state has fallen out with practically all the governors, the judges of the Supreme Court and the presidents of the two Chambers of legislative power, that of the Senate demanding more “seriousness and responsibility”.

Monday, the main figures on the left went further, asking the president to resign, deeming “irresponsible” and “criminal” the way he copes with the health crisis.

To reduce the impact of confinement on the economy, Jair Bolsonaro recommends “vertical isolation”, which would only concern populations considered to be at risk, in particular the elderly.

But Eliana Bicudo, from the Brazilian Society of Infectiology, considers that it is too risky to “isolate only the elderly and let the young circulate, without having a real idea of ​​the behavior of the virus in Brazil” .

A study by Imperial College London estimates that Brazil could limit to 44 200 the number of deaths related to COVID – 19 with strict containment measures. But this figure could exceed 500 000 if only the elderly were isolated, in this vast country of 210 milions of inhabitants.

“False dichotomy”

“Bolsonaro's speech fuels a false dichotomy between preserving life and protecting the economy,” said Thomaz Favaro, of the consulting firm Control Risks.

“Benchmark studies show that social distancing helps not only to avoid overloading the health system, but also to facilitate the recovery of the economy after the pandemic,” he continues.

For Alexandre Schwartsman, former director of international affairs at the Central Bank, “public health must prevail over the economy”.

“If we let the epidemic spread, the economic consequences are likely to be even worse. We must help people stay at home by giving them income, “he added, in an analysis published on the G1 news site.

The government has announced a series of economic measures, including funding the wages of employees of SMEs and an allowance for the most vulnerable, a plan deemed insufficient by many analysts.